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Setting Up an MOT Test Station

This section explains what you need to set up a new MOT testing station in the United Kingdom and how to meet VOSA 'Requirements of Authorisation'.

Further topics include the minimum levels on approved testing equipment, how to prepare for a DVSA site view, and how testers learn about changes to MOT rules.

MOT Testing Stations (Legal Requirements)

Anyone wanting to become a vehicle test station (VTS) will need to follow various DVSA and VOSA legal requirements.

So for example, to set up an MOT test centre you are going to need:

  • Acceptable facilities, approved equipment, and suitable security for the vehicle classes you will test.
  • An MOT authorised examiner (e.g. an individual, partnership).

In fact, the authorised examiner (AE) can be is a sole trader, a business partnership, or a limited company. But, once the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) grants authorisation to run the testing station, the AE will be responsible for ensuring:

  • All MOT testers (e.g. employed staff members) conduct vehicle tests according to the required standards and in the proper manner. AEs must also make sure any employed MOT testers get assessed correctly and have completed their MOT tester training and annual assessments.
  • The premises, facilities, and the testing equipment are checked for compliance, in good working order, and well-maintained.
  • Unauthorised persons do not have access to MOT documents. For example, all blank certificates should be stored in a secure place and only eligible users should have access to electronic MOT test systems.
  • Staff from the DVSA have appropriate access to the premises to check staff, equipment, and facilities. As an authorised examiner you are also responsible for informing the DVSA about any significant changes to the business (within seven working days of when the changes take place).

Another section explains the full process of becoming an MOT tester (e.g. the requirements and qualifications) in greater detail.

Before You Can Start MOT Testing

The DVSA will not grant authorisation to carry out MOT testing until you have met the Requirements for Authorisation, and there is:

  • An MOT manager appointed to run the vehicle test station. The manager must have passed an approved course (e.g. a level 3 award in MOT Test Centre Management or the former 2-day DVSA course).
  • At least one MOT tester with approval for testing the classes of vehicles as stated in the application.

Note: You can search online to find an MOT manager qualification course and then book it yourself. The course providers set the prices themselves so the cost may vary (depending on the location).

Becoming an Authorised Examiner (AE)

You will need to apply for authorised examiner status to start an MOT testing station. The definition of an ‘AE’ is the person or the business that is running the vehicle test centre. So, it can be an individual (e.g. a sole trader), a business partnership, or a limited company.

Note: The status of AE is non transferable with a business. So, you would need to apply for authorised examiner status in your own right if you buy an existing MOT station.

Applying for Authorised Examiner Status

You must use application form VT01 to apply to set up or change an MOT test station (including becoming an authorised examiner).

There is no fee to pay and the VT01 application form contains extra guidance notes for filling in the document and attaching any relevant declaration sheets.

You should use the same form if you already have authorised examiner status and you want to:

  • Apply to set up another new MOT testing station.
  • Apply to take on an existing MOT test station.

Send a completed VT01 form by email or by post to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency address (details below).

Note: The DVSA may refuse to grant your application for authorised examiner status (AE). If so, they would confirm it in writing and explain how and when you can appeal the decision.

Reapplying for AE Status

As a rule, reconstructing a company would mean it gets a new company registration number. In this case, you would need to reapply for authorised examiner status.

Equipment, Premises and Facilities

The responsibilities of authorised examiners include making sure the equipment and the premises are suitable for the vehicle classification that will be tested.

MOT Equipment Requirements

As part of the required IT equipment you will need to have a desktop computer, a laptop, or a tablet. You also need to have suitable internet connection and a printer.

Note: The GOV.UK website has further details about the IT equipment specification required by garages when using the MOT testing service.

Approved Testing Equipment

There are several different classes of vehicles. Thus, you will need to have different specialist test equipment for testing them.

You need to have the minimum level for each vehicle class that you get approval to test. The AE must make sure all MOT testing equipment is kept in good working order and calibrated to the correct specifications.

The Garage Equipment Association (GEA) publishes lists of DVSA acceptable equipment for MOT test centres, including:

  • Brake pedal application devices
  • Decelerometers
    • Category A are approved for all classes of vehicle
    • Category B are approved for class 3, 4, 5 and 7 vehicles
    • Category C are approved for class 1 and 2 vehicles
  • Diesel smoke meters
  • Exhaust gas analysers (catalyst vehicles)
  • Exhaust gas analysers (non-catalyst vehicles)
  • Floor/pull along brake testers
  • Hand held devices
  • Headlamp aim testers
  • Oil temperature measurement devices (these are sometimes integral to diesel smoke meters)
  • Plate brake testers
  • Roller brake testers
  • Speed limiters
  • Tow bar socket testers
  • Tyre tread depth gauges
  • Wheel play detectors

Note: Read more about the testing procedures and standards for MOT tests on class 1 and 2 vehicles, such as motorcycles, scooters, mopeds and motorcycle combinations.

Requirements for MOT Premises

One of the Requirements of Authorisation is making sure your premises are suitable. You must also use testing bay sizes that are correct for the type of vehicle classes your centre is testing.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency produce statutory guidance in the MOT testing guide for test stations. It clarifies how DVSA administer the MOT scheme and the rules for authorised examiners and testers.

Receiving ‘Approval in Principle’

The premises will receive an approval in principle after someone applies for authorised examiner (AE) status. It means you can avoid making expensive purchases (e.g. the kit for headlamp beam testing) until your premises get approved.

Once you get AE status you will be able to make changes to the facilities of your vehicle test station (VTS). But, you must inform the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in writing before making any changes.

Chadderton GVTS
Broadway Business Park
Email: [email protected]

Important: Remember to include any relevant and supporting drawings that show the facility changes will not affect the testing station’s approval.

How to Meet Ongoing Standards

There must be a clear and public display of poster (VT9A) in your testing station (explaining MOT test fees and the retest and appeals process). You must ensure MOT testing is carried out to the correct and proper standard on your premises.

Preparing for DVSA Site Reviews

The DVSA carry out regular risk-based site reviews of MOT testing stations. The main purpose behind the site visits is to make sure the AE is meeting the right standards, such as:

  • Checking the station is well maintained.
  • Does it offer clean and comfortable facilities (e.g. suitable waiting areas for customers).

Note: You can read more about management systems, the policies and checks you need to have in place, and how to manage your MOT centre.

DVSA Disciplinary Actions

Several things may happen if your service is not good enough. First of all, the DVSA can take disciplinary action against you. They can also stop you from operating as an MOT testing station.

What if you lose your AE status through disciplinary actions taken by the DVSA? In this instance, another person can apply for AE status at the same testing centre. But, they would need to prove to the DVSA that they would be operating ‘independently’ from you.

MOT Manuals and ‘Special Notices’

Reading the guidance in the ‘special notices‘ is an easy way for AEs and testers to learn about changes to MOT rules and any changes to the scheme. As an authorised examiner you would receive the guides as an automatic process in the online MOT testing service.

MOT Test Bay Specifications and Dimensions

Note: This informative video [21:51 seconds] provides further information about VOSA requirements for setting up an MOT test bay. Always check current specifications and dimensions with your local office.

Starting a New MOT Testing Station in the United Kingdom